December 13, 2005

WW0@1914 - The Pan-Angles: A Consideration of the Federation of the Seven ...

The Pan-Angles A Consideration of the Federation of the Seven English-Speaking Nations (1914) By Sinclair Kennedy

The Pan-Angles was completed early in 1914 and it shows a dramatic change in view from Dos Passos' book "Anglo-Saxon Century" written a decade earlier, and even more different from Parkin's 1892 "Imperial Federation."

The entente between Great Britain and the United States was fully underway. The various British colonies were rapidly becoming self-governing dominions. Each was absorbing staggering annual percentages of immigrants, many from the British Isles. New and rapidly growing competitors on the world's oceans (Germany, Japan, Russia) and on land (China) were to be taken seriously, and offered direct threat to the farflung British Empire, and American colonial outposts in the Phillipines and south Pacific. Domestically, Asian immigration was seen as both a threat to security and a threat to economic fairness for working people. It was a time when the massing of global interests pushed people to think in terms of power blocs, and the alignment of those blocs with race was hardly surprising.


Download 587K .jpg of above map at 50% of original

Download 528K Microsoft Word e-book file of Pan-Angles

In this context, Kennedy's book appears as a deeply referenced review of the strong similarities between the seven English-Speaking Nations of the book's title (Great Britain, United States, Canada, Newfoundland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa). Much like Dos Passos, but with more rigour and detail, Kennedy establishes the basis for sentimental association between the countries. The ancient establishment of political assemblies and their transportation to the New World is highlighted, as is the distinction between parts of the British Empire between those which were "part of" the British traditions, and those which merely "belonged to" the Empire. He needed a compact way to describe the nations which inherited British values and political traditions in a way which didn't obscure the diverse origins of their citizenry. The neologism "pan-Angle" was his solution.

The ties between the seven countries were to be the basis for a common defense ... "[h]ere will be found no jingoism, if this be defined as a desire to flaunt power for its own sake; no altruism, if this means placing the welfare of others before one's own; and no sentiment except that which leads to self-preservation." The Pan-Angles is therefore not a book of geopolitical strategy or military preparedness. It's an exposition of what the Pan-Angles share, and any differences which might place an obstacle in the way of an effective federation for self-defence and continued prosperity. Of course, within months of the publication of the Pan-Angles, the shape of international conflict was to focus on continental Europe. And the fallout of World War 1 (and the participation of the United States in its latter stages) was to further shape the rest of the 20th century ... Russia, Japan, Germany, and China were indeed to play a large role on the world stage.

Kennedy's first few chapters are a brief methodical review of the history of Great Britain and its impact on the political structure and cultural values of the Pan-Angle Nations. Chapter headings such as "The Civilization", "The People", and "Individualism" give a sense of how Kennedy felt his argument should be presented. We even see the trope of "[i]f an intelligent traveler from Mars were to tour the earth to-day he would jot down in his notebook that New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Newfoundland, Canada, the British Isles, and the United States were all inhabited by the same sort of people." Kennedy notes that amongst these nations we more readily perceive the differences and take the similarities for granted. Kennedy tries to overcome that tendency by reiterating the historical events and habits of life that bond the seven countries together. Moreso perhaps than in our day, in 1913 those countries could reasonably be described as a civilization unto itself. In passages more lyrical than conclusive, Kennedy reviews the pioneering and adventurous tendencies of the Pan-Angles and how that flavours the personal attitudes and appetites of the day.

It is worth noting that Kennedy's footnotes provide a fascinating snapshot of the authors and ideas of the pre-War period who were taking an interest in how the British Empire, or the broader English-speaking world, should adapt to the maturation of the colonies and the appearance of formidable economic and military competitors.

Kennedy follows up his description of the shared values of the Pan-Angles with a review of the populations, square miles, and relative sizes of the Pan-Angle nations. He also discusses the relationship of the former colonies with London ... a relationship in 1914 which included a great deal of British oversight through the Privy Council and which was to be reflected in huge colonial participation in the trenches of Europe in a scant few years.

Then the author turns to the systems of government in the various countries, noting again the many local differences and adaptations but emphasizing the underlying similarities that were shared by parliamentary democracies and the giant republic. The distinctions between written constitutions and unwritten constitutional traditions are important when considering how nations would form a closer association. Of special interest to Kennedy was the role and participation of colonies or dependencies within the structure of government.

Having reviewed the natural ties between the English-speaking peoples and the nature of the ways they govern themselves, Kennedy proceeds to discuss the dangers facing the Pan-Angle civilization. For domestic discord, he feels that each nation must look to its own issues without interference from other nations. Apart from South Africa's turmoil associated with the role of East Indian labourers, and the role of non-whites generally, Kennedy sees little serious civil discord across the Pan-Angle countries. He is less sanguine when it comes to intra-Pan-Angle national friction. This takes the form of both commercial disputes and territorial or governmental differences. The inadequacies of the Privy Council in London being the final appeal court for the Dominions was by this time becoming all too evident. And whether it was British Columbia, California, Australia, or South Africa, the steam ship era had opened up new concerns about immigration from India, Japan, and China. Local responses at the time were rabid, to put it mildly.

As for the dangers to the Pan-Angles from other civilizations or nations, Kennedy lays out the argument that separate political existences for each of the Pan-Angle nations will not guarantee peace, and may in fact open temptation for military confrontation. In concluding, he states that "[t]hree choices lie before the Pan-Angles: the make-shift regime of Downing Street and the gambling uncertainties of arbitration boards, the jarring separation we have known in our past, [or] the noble method of union which our race has evolved, tested, and in four separate nations adopted. By solving our international differences of opinion in a federal government we can husband our strength for self-defence as a united power against other civilizations."

Having stated options, he then proceeds to review in greater detail the relative strengths and appetites of the other major powers of the world at the time. In this, his calculations of populations, geographic size, industrial might, and military appetite are unvarnished. And in light of the news of that day, the overall pessimistic and grim outlook are in line with the book's premise ... and what would come to pass within just a few years.

Turning to a solution, Kennedy notes that the tendency of the Pan-Angle nations have been for "spreading, separating, and converging." It is to the last tendency that he turns his attention in a chapter on common government. "Sentiment is not government," says Kennedy, echoing Dos Passos distinction between the ties of sentiment and those of self-interest. He notes that a functioning union with Westminster has been a dream of various colonies and authors through the 17th and 18th century. Ben Franklin's hope for such union were dashed, and the American republic was proudly apart for almost 150 years thereafter. Kennedy reviews this long history of federal appetites, and the contemporary challenges of Irish Home Rule which were straining goodwill in Britain. The appetite for federation in Canada, United States, South Africa, and Australia stood as examples of what could be, at a larger scale.

Finally, Kennedy turns to the question of self-preservation. In his view, a closer union of the six Britannic nations might afford sufficient protection. And the United States standing alone might protect itself. But a union of the seven nations with a total population of 141 million would indisputably be able to protect itself. To Kennedy, federation was a proven solution in Pan-Angle history and entirely compatible with the national patriotism to be found in Pan-Angle countries. It is only in a proper federation, he believes, that local or provincial concerns can be reconciled with broader needs. Arbitration panels are naturally divisive and only suited for parties who are all motivated to come to some solution. Patriotism cannot be engaged by treaty or alliance. The challenge under urgent consideration by British imperial bureaucrats at the time could be extended as well to relations with the United States. "These pages are intended to set forth the necessity and inevitableness of Pan-Angle federation, by whichever method attained, and as such are in thorough accord with all efforts towards Britannic federation. Either course is possible, if delay does not furnish opportunities for our separate destruction in the meantime by some rival civilization."

So Kennedy views his book as an extrapolation of imperial federal initiatives, in the face of new and growing military rivalry. A federalism to be based on approaches already in place seemed most likely to succeed, for Kennedy (citing Burke) felt that the Pan-Angles were reflexively conservative in their political solutions.

As a method of encouraging a federation, Kennedy saw the many Pan-Angle co-operative ventures of the time, at the governmental level, as furthering stronger ties between peoples and nations. Whether the interest in natural conservation, the harmonization of postal systems, or "grand tours" by politicians, intra-Pan-Angle activity could only emphasize the ties between the nations. Voluntary associations were similarly important as sources of reform. Kennedy saw the process as necessarily reflecting Pan-Angle values: "[i]n this labour of education we must work openly in the presence of each other and under the scrutiny of the nations of the world. ... because it is one of our inestimable privileges to make up our own minds." The development of the Rhodes scholarships was part of a conscious plan by Cecil Rhodes to encourage the Pan-Angles to foster personal experience and appreciation of Great Britain.

In the intervening time before a federation could be created, Kennedy urged each individual country to strengthen itself "to weather the storm of adversity should it burst upon us before co-operation is secured." He closes with a warning not to be discouraged by the slow rate of movement toward a federation. Slow and progressive alteration of constitutional matters is the rule, rather than exception, for the Pan-Angles, he notes. And the federating and confederating atmosphere of the time in the British self-governing colonies was a sign that large scale federation was both familiar and achievable. A Pan-Angle federation was merely the same thing writ large.

Kennedy's book was written "in hopes of helping each of us better to understand each other, and to remind us how much we need each other's help." The circumstances of the First World War, which began scant months after The Pan-Angles was published, placed Kennedy's vision of federation in a very different context. Yet another world war was to follow two decades later which linked the Pan-Angle peoples much more closely in shared sacrifice. We may find ourselves hard pressed to imagine with much detail Kennedy's concerns in 1914, but his plea and rationale for federation is another installment in the long history of visions of unity amongst the English-speaking peoples.

Posted by jmccormick at December 13, 2005 01:20 AM

Bad link on continue reading?

Posted by: Richard A. Heddleson at December 13, 2005 09:07 AM

Interesting to note that Kennedy's map shows Japan color-coded the same as the Anglo-Seven. And looking at that map, it's amazingly obvious the importance of the Panama Canal to the six "Imperial" members of the Federation of Seven once India is removed from member-status.

If the Federation had been created, I wonder if the US would have ceded to the Federation controll of the Canal Zone as a demonstation of trust? It would certainly have a huge impact on the British Empire to have unfettered and guarenteed usage of the Canal, both militarily and economically. The Canal Zone might even have served-then as a "Federal District" and neutral-zone for Federation civil administration and political coordination. It sits astride the east-west axis of the British Empire, and the north-south axis of the Monroe Doctrine's American sphere-of-influence of American trade with South America. A confluence of Pan-Anglo and Pan-Americanism at a time when Chile, Argentina and Brazil were in many respects First-World nations with growing international-trade, budding industries and first-class battle-ship navies.

Posted by: Ted B. at December 13, 2005 01:01 PM

It seems that when James posts these fascinating entries with maps and attached files, it takes the blogging software a while to process the entry and make the permalink ("continue reading") available. However, your patience is rewarded in the end. ;-)

Posted by: Peter Saint-Andre at December 13, 2005 01:03 PM

I don't think Panama would have been an administrative center for Anglo-America before the advent of air conditioning! I believe the British Foreign Office rated Houston as a tropical hardship post.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at December 13, 2005 08:58 PM

The British Foreign Office used to consider Washington DC a hardship posting, what with the Yellow Fever, Malaria, Cholera and the "it's not the heat, it's the humidity"-climate in Summer.

Posted by: Ted B. at December 14, 2005 11:44 AM
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